Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gratitude: The Most Exquisite Form of Courtesy

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” -Friedrich Neitzsche
How does one begin to cultivate habits of gratitude and charity into each new day? A charitable act isn’t merely the giving of a tangible item, though in many cases there is great need for such. It can start with a spirit of gratitude underlying our thoughts and communications. The manner in which we listen, how patient we are when a situation becomes frustrating, offering a smile when we’d rather not, or simply abstaining from passing judgment are little ways we can show appreciation for others in our daily interactions.
In the gallery we interact with people from everywhere! We encourage and invite them into each space to experience the treasures we have to offer. We listen, we care, and we try to relate. But how do we impact others outside of the gallery? Well, that’s where you come in– when you patronize us, you are not only receiving a lasting object of beauty, you are helping us to give back!
 “Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.” -Jacques Maritain
When in high school, a member of the Fray family volunteered preparing sandwiches for local food trucks to deliver to the hungry. Today that non-profit, known as “Mobile Loaves & Fishes,” sends over half a dozen food trucks around Austin offering lunch and dinner meals to the homeless. Since that time Jean-Marc Fray Antiques continues to be a sustaining donor to this remarkable organization.
 
Their project has expanded to include an entire village based on the idea of restoring stability to people who have endured chronic homelessness, joblessness, or mental illness while respecting the dignity of the participants. Community First! Village is a 27-acre planned community that offers an opportunity for affordable, permanent housing based on the tiny home concept. These micro-homes offer a creative opportunity for design, many contributed by award-winning local architects through the Tiny Victories design competition.
The facility, speckled with airstreams and RV’s amidst attractive tiny concept homes, was evidently in the planning stages for over a decade. Currently it has the capacity to house over 200 residents! Described as a “transformative residential program” in Central Texas, the Village has also developed a community garden, nature trails, an outdoor cinema, and a bed & breakfast.

To learn more about how this incredible non-profit is making an important impact on homelessness in Austin check out this video:

If it truly takes just a little time to impact another’s life in a positive way, how much better could we make the lives of those around us with one simple daily act. Perhaps seek out a charity that speaks to you and try volunteering there. When we give to others we also give something to ourselves. It may not seem palpable, however, the effect might be a bit more powerful and lasting than something you can hold in your hands.
Let us us pause and show gratitude for one precious part of our life. After all, according to Milton, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
Posted by Deanna Ashley at 04:04:02 AM
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Louvre Abu Dhabi: A Universal Museum

In November of 2017, ten years after the museum was established, the doors were opened at the incredible Louvre Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates. Working to bridge the gap between western and eastern art, the historic 30 year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government paves the path for art loans and cultural exchange not seen before. The building is located on the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, with other major museums such as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum. This is a partnership forged to bring world-class culture to the Middle East while strengthening international dialogue.

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Interior Reflecting Pool, The Telegraph
Louvre Abu Dhabi

Designed by international award winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s breathtaking construction is as significant as the art it holds. Made up of 55 separate low buildings, the museum’s architecture both draws on and elevates the traditional building style of the Arabian culture. The center piece, a 7500 ton dome, has a weightless feel, as sunlight filters through to the floor within, just as it would through the leaves of palm trees. Connected intricately with the ocean, the building inspires visitors with the ever-changing light of the sky, sea, and architecture. Nouvel describes the space as “a welcoming world serenely combining light and shadow, reflection and calm.”

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is also designed as a micro climate, with LEED status, and has subsequently won several architecture awards, both for design and for environmental impact.

Ocean entry, Louvre Abu Dhabi
Sunlight entering museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi
Detail of ceiling dome, Louvre Abu Dhabi

Identifying as a ‘universal’ museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi aims to transcend individual cultures and blend the art into one international story. The pieces are not organized by geographical location or medium, but instead by a timeline, merging pieces from around the world into a single space. As the Louvre describes it, the goal is to “illustrate the similarities that grow out of a shared human experience, beyond any geographical, historical, or cultural boundaries. The result is a truly universal museum.”

La Belle Ferronniere, one of the biggest highlights, The Telegraph
Woman views ‘Horses of the Sun’ by French sculptor Gilles Guerin, Jordan Times
Funeral set of princess Henuttawy at Louvre Abu Dhabi, CNN

Two temporary exhibitions are currently showing at the museum, each representing the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s vision for their universal space. One explores the history of the Louvre as one of the most influential cultural entities in the world. The second exhibition pairs Abu Dhabi artists with renowned French manufacturers for a collection focused on collaboration and breathing new life into the timeless crafts of embroidery, glass, weaving, and ceramics. The Louvre Abu Dhabi also has a children’s museum, focused on learning with family-focused exhibitions and workshops in both Arabic and English.

This new cultural destination is open for visitors, and accessible by land or sea.

‘The Grand Galerie of the Musée du Louvre by Hubert Robert, shown in the From One Louvre to Another exhibit, Louvre Abu Dhabi
Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoir-Faire exhibition, Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi from above, CNN
Posted by Cecilia Chard at 05:31:31 AM
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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

City Spotlight: New Orleans

“[New Orleans is] not a city. It’s a way of life. It’s a place that you fall deeply in love with.” -Jesse Moore

NOLA. N’awlins. The Big Easy. New Orleans goes by many names, but is one-of-a-kind– rich with history, culture, architecture, art, music, and food. It has an energy all its own, and enraptures those who walk its vibrant streets. I had the pleasure of experiencing this “way of life” this fall, and there is a lot to share.

New Orleans | Smarter Travel

A bit of background: New Orleans, or Nouvelle-Orléans, was founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company, directed by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, and named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans of the Kingdom of France. The city developed around the Vieux Carré (“Old Square”), now known as the French Quarter. This grid-patterned center was built with French colonial architecture, using pitched roofs and wood siding, but these “first-generation” Creole buildings unfortunately could not withstand The Great New Orleans Fire of 1788, and another fire in 1794.

Madame John’s Legacy | Tulane School of Architecture

When these fires occurred, the Spanish ruled Louisiana, and did so for 40 years.  They rebuilt the city using brick and iron, and enforced strict codes that required these construction materials to avoid further destruction. I enjoyed oysters and rosé on one of the many iron-enclosed galleries throughout The Quarter.

Spanish Inspired Architecture | Lonely Planet
The Presbytere, circa 1822 | LASC

While only about 25 structures built during the French or Spanish colonial eras survive today, most of the existing buildings have a Creole style, which was influenced by a mixture of French and Spanish architecture, along with some elements from the Caribbean.   This diverse history shows not only in the architecture, but in the food, the music, and the soul of the city.

Speaking of food, New Orleans does not disappoint. In fact, according to bon appétit, America’s best new restaurant of 2017 lies in NOLA’s sleepy Irish Channel neighborhood. Turkey and the Wolf is an eclectic, funky sandwich shop with fresh ingredients (ham smoked in-house for ten hours, two-year aged sharp cheddar) that combine to create an unexpected and delicious experience. The line moves fast, and trust me, it’s worth the wait.

 

Turkey and the Wolf | New Orleans Online

Turn down any street and you are sure to encounter something delectable– the city specializes in seafood (jumbalaya, gumbo, étouffée, etc.), desserts (beignets, bread pudding, bananas foster), and the classic red beans and rice, just to name a few. Crawfish and crab broils are a popular activity, and while sitting on a bench outside a quiet bar in the Garden District neighborhood, a woman appeared from next door with extra crab for everyone there. You couldn’t ask for a more “New Orleans” encounter.

Bacchanal offers a do-it-yourself wine-cellar vibe, where you get to peruse their shelves for the wine of your choice, and then select your cheeses from the fridge along the wall. You hand it to the cashier and they deliver it to your table outside with bread and assorted accompaniments. Outside there is a small stage for live music, stringed lights through the trees, and none of the chairs match. It’s a perfect low-key spot to have a night out and enjoy, music, wine, and the company you share.

 

For art, just take a stroll down Royal Street in the French Quarter– just a block away from boisterous Bourbon street lies over half a mile of antiques, boutiques, fine jewelry, and art galleries to explore. I even encountered a shop with a shared love of Murano glass lighting.

 

Finally, you cannot avoid the music that lives throughout this vibrant City of Jazz. There is always a saxophone player or violinist performing on a street corner, a folksy group on stage in the bar, or a full-blown marching band parading down the street with a newlywed bride and groom.

New Orleans Street Music | St. Augustine
Wedding March French Quarter

There’s a little bit of everything for everyone in N’awlins, and once you visit, you can’t help but fall deeply in love.

Posted by Lauren Gunn at 06:14:19 AM
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

European Holiday Traditions Part II: Le Menu

Roasted duck served on a festive platter.

As many of us are preparing for our guests’ arrival for the holiday, much time is spent in the kitchen! In France, families share a special meal honoring the beginning of Christmas day. “Le Réveillon de Noël,” or Christmas dinner. This feast is served late in the evening following, “La Messe de Minuit” (Midnight Mass) which is observed earlier in the evening by many parishes.

Opulent still life with gold and silver metalwork, nautilus shell, porcelain, victuals and other motifs on a draped table, ca. 1650 by Christiaen Luyckx

The dining experience begins with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, often seafood, such as escargot, caviar, oysters, lobster, or sea scallops poached in white wine. Try this version of gratinéed sea scallops: Coquilles St. Jacques. For the main course the family might enjoy a traditional French dish of Duck à l’OrangeRoasted Christmas Goose with ChesnutsTruffled Turkey with Foie Gras, or Carp with Roasted Fennel. In the small Italian region of Umbria this dish is referred to as “Regina in Porcetta.” Each region has their popular favorites, though, in typical French spirit, this meal is not complete without champagne!

Moet & Chandon Champagne

The final course is made of thirteen different desserts. This tradition is mainly celebrated in the region of Provence to represent Christ and the twelve apostles. The selection of thirteen sweets may vary, though “les quatre mendiants,” representing the 4 monastic orders, are usually among them and sometimes served with nougat. The Dominicans are represented by Raisins, the Augustines by walnuts or hazelnuts, the Franciscans by dried figs, and the Carmelites by almonds. Dates or dried plums from Brignoles are served to symbolize the region of the Christ story origin. These four special ingredients frequently make it into a dessert all their own with chocolate called, Recettes de Mendiants, or in a galette (flat round cake or pastry).

Galette des rois aux 4 mendiants

Fruit desserts make a richly colored edible tapestry for the plate, and may contain melon, quince, white grapes, tangerines, or candied citron. Other desserts served are Pain d’épices (spiced gingerbread)and Calissons d’Aix (marzipan pastry).

Thirteen Desserts

Calissons d’Aix

Unlike the French, Christmas Eve dinner for Italians is light and meat is avoided, to “purify” the body before la Vigilia de Natale (Feast of the Seven Fishes). They indulge instead on an array of seafood dishes. This meal is observed before Midnight Mass. Following mass, in the Dolomites region of northern Italy, many thrill-seeking Italians put on their skis and head down the mountain at night with torch, or flashlight, in hand to ring in Christmas Day!

Feast of the Seven Fishes

There is much focus and festivity in the U.S. surrounding the Christmas Tree, rather than the age-old Yule Log. In much of Northern Europe and throughout France, a Yule log, often from a fruit tree, would be lit on Christmas Eve and burn through New Year’s Day. Burning the log was historically thought to bring luck to the family farm, or to protect against lightning. In some regions, as in Provence, it was a family affair to cut the tree used for the log. The remains of the log would be saved for the following year once the burning ceased after the Twelfth Night. A few traditions may be fading, as they may not be practical for many modern households. Yet France pays homage to older traditions with modern representations as in their delectable dessert, Bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log).

We recommend this recipe from Bon Appétit here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our sampling of European Holiday recipes. Please feel free to share some of your own below!

From all of us at Jean-Marc Fray Antiques, we wish you and yours a Joyeux Noël.

Posted by Deanna Ashley at 03:09:23 AM
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